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20 Most Interesting Brutalist Buildings

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DCPlanner
DCPlanner  
2/10/2014 1:45:03 AM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Brutal Fascination
I'm sorry I discovered your blog so late -- some very interesting and enlightening posts.  Thanks for the pics of Brutalist buildings; it was educational to discover that there were actually some with appeal.  I share your positive thoughts about the Sao Paolo Museum and the Geisel Library.  I always thought the Safdie Habitat buildings looked intriguing, but have never seen them close up.  One of the major failings of most Brutalist architecture, as was alluded to by some of the earlier posts, is their apparent lack of interest in meeting the street in a way that contributed to pedestrian vitality.  The FBI building in DC is a textbook example -- I would say it is the building that virtually everyone in DC would agree is the ugliest in the metro area.  Brutalist buildings also have not aged well, and the concrete, as was evident from many of the photos, seems to easily absorb grime, further lessening their appeal.  Other nominations for ugly Brutalist buildings in DC, though some have been landmarked, include the World Health Organization, the Forrestal Complex,  Marcel Breuer's headquarters building for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the L'Enfant Plaza complex. 

richheap
richheap  
12/27/2013 12:06:18 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Brutal Fascination
Thanks NewDream, and my pleasure. There were some other interesting buildings I had to leave off so you should turn up some good ones during your research.

NewDream
NewDream  
12/27/2013 10:16:57 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Brutal Fascination
Rich, I missed this article when you published it a couple of months back. I found it yesterday because of Mary's comment on your photo.

I am clearly no student of architecture because the whole "Brutalist" concept was totally new to me. Your survey of buildings was truly fascinating. I liked more of them than I hated, and only a couple were in the "who cares" category... your choices whetted my appetite and I'll be looking into this topic in much more detail.

Thanks!

richheap
richheap  
11/6/2013 12:49:39 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: more of the same
Thanks mejiac. I wonder what the next big change will be. At the moment a lot of cities are still very big on glass buildings, but there must be a change coming soon.

mejiac
mejiac  
10/31/2013 3:18:14 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: more of the same
@richheap,

I think all designs and urban and building innovation become the "norm" over time, but we have to appreciate the designers that came up with the origional idea, that many times may be considered "crazy" ideas.

Sadly, unlike consumer products, a building can't simply be upgraded with a new look and feel, but I do think they need to be appreciate for what they accomplished when they were designed at the beginning

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
10/30/2013 3:28:00 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Preston Bus Station
Great point. Then again, perhaps in my heart of hearts, the station would only look greyer in bright light. I'm just not certain how I really feel about it.

richheap
richheap  
10/30/2013 1:19:27 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Preston Bus Station
Well, it's personal taste isn't it? You could also love it at some times but hate it at others. Some buildings look great when the sun's out but hidesouly oppressive when it's cold and grey.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
10/30/2013 11:48:53 AM
User Rank Staff
Preston Bus Station
Someone may already have commented on Preston Bus Station, so please forgive any overlap or duplication of comments. I just have to put in my two cents: I don't know whether I love this excellent example of Brutalism or hate it. One one hand, when I read about how "sublime" it is perceived to be by some, I can see their point. On the other hand, at first glance it looks like exposed HVAC.

This is my main reaction to most of these types of structures. I still haven't really decided where my true sense of them lies.

richheap
richheap  
10/9/2013 9:01:19 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: brutalism
That's a fair point, Cindy. Many buildings developed in this style can be pretty dull and monolithic, and many could be either knocked down or altered to make a more positive contribution to the streetscape. But there are good examples out there. 

richheap
richheap  
10/9/2013 8:54:05 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: more of the same
I suppose that's the fate of a lot of architectural styles, CitySolver. It starts off radical and exciting, but then everyone begin to do it (some not very well) and it begins to look dull. I'm sure people found glass skyscrapers fantastically exciting when they first saw them, but now they're everywhere? Not so much.

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